A behavioral intervention for mothers of colicky infants

Susanne K Lim, The University of Texas School of Nursing at Houston


Background: Mothers caring for an infant with unexplained, excessive crying, or infant colic, can experience overwhelming stress. Colic affects approximately 10-20% of all healthy newborns and typically manifests in the post-partum period. It is the most common complaint of pediatric health care providers in the first three months of life. Currently, the literature lacks a clear and effective intervention to improve colic symptoms. Mothers must cope with the challenges of caring for a colicky infant until symptoms remit. Aims: The specific aim of this study is to assess the effectiveness of a behavioral intervention, The Happiest Baby on the Block, in reducing mother's stress and improving mother-to-infant bonding. Methods: A randomized controlled trial was conducted with initially thirteen mothers. Participants were randomized to a treatment (n=7) or control group (n=6); four from the control group were lost to attrition. Mother's stress level was measured using the Parenting Stress Index-Short Form, salivary cortisol and salivary amylase levels. Mother-to-infant bonding was measured using the Mother-to-Infant Bond Scale. Measurements were obtained at baseline and at about two weeks post-intervention. Results: A doubly multivariate analysis was used to compare the two groups across the two time periods. Although results revealed a reduction in mean stress and mother-to-infant bonding scores, statistical significance was not achieved (p=.133). Conclusion: The behavioral intervention assessed in this study did not demonstrate statistical significance in reducing mother's stress levels or improving mother-to-infant bonding levels for mothers of colicky infants. A small sample size is a clear limitation and may have contributed to the non-significant findings. Further research is recommended with a large sample size and equal groups to validate findings.

Subject Area

Nursing|Individual & family studies

Recommended Citation

Lim, Susanne K, "A behavioral intervention for mothers of colicky infants" (2013). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI3574411.